Already one the UK’s most successful artists, Lily Allen has just the right attitude
Lily Rose Beatrice Allen was born on 2 May 1985 in Hammersmith, West London, the daughter of actor Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen. Her childhood was turbulent; raised alongside her sister and brother, her parents divorced when she was just three and Allen found herself living in a variety of addresses across London, including a spell in the house of comedian Harry Enfield, with whom her mother dated for a period. Disenchanted with education, Allen attended a total of thirteen different schools, some of them the most expensive fee-paying schools in the UK (Hill House, Millfield, Bedales) and was expelled from several of them for drinking and smoking.
Out of school at fifteen, she stayed in Ibiza following a family holiday, where, in between partying, she worked in a local record store called Plastic Fantastic. It was a fortuitous move, here she met George Lamb, former manager of Audio Bullys and an influential A&R man.
Taking a shine to her boisterous attitude, and captivated by some of the lyrics she had penned, Lamb agreed to manage Allen's career. It was through Lamb that Allen was introduced to music producers Future Cat, who proved instrumental in helping the rising star find her feet as a songwriter and provided her with some catchy backing tracks.
Allen eventually landed a deal with Regal Records, a division of Parlophone/EMI, in 2005. Regal Records gave Allen £25,000 to produce an album but beyond finances they were unable to provide much support, partially due to their preoccupation with other artists, such as Gorillaz's and Coldplay.
Frustrated by the slow pace of the music industry, Allen began posting demos of her music on her MySpace page, including the singles 'Smile' and 'LDN', and embarked on a series of performances in Notting Hill's Yo-Yo nightclub in 2006, anything to get her name out there.
Her tenacity paid off, by the summer of 2006, Allen had 1.5 million people streaming her tracks and an additional 30,000 registered as friends. The hype surrounding Allen attracted the attention of music producer Mark Ronson who flew her out to New York at his own expense. It was during this trip that Ronson and producer, Greg Kurstin, helped Allen finish her debut 'Alright, Still'.
Allen’s first single, 'Smile', shot to number one in the singles chart, the album, released in Europe on 17 July 2006, debuted at no. two in the UK album charts. It earned Allen five BRIT nominations and broke into the Billboard top 20 in America. Her style, pretty prom dress crossed with attitude, hoops and trainers – as displayed on the 'Smile' video – became a benchmark of ‘cool’ and the look caught on. By the close of 2006, Lily Allen was no longer just the daughter of famous parents but a celebrity in her own right.
In the same year, in addition to headlining the newly-launched Park Stage at Glastonbury, she supplied guest vocals on songs by Dizzee Rascal, Basement Jaxx and Robbie Williams. She also received acclaim for her interpretation of the Kaiser Chiefs' 'Oh My God', which she produced in conjunction with Mark Ronson.
As her career went from strength to strength, so did her profile in the media. Some of this attention was good. She was cited as a style icon by several leading female magazines after girls began to copy her look and she used these affirmations as a platform from which to launch her own fashion line, 'Lily Loves', in 2007. Karl Lagerfield, the creative director at Chanel, was so enamoured by Allen that he personally hired her to model a new line of handbags in autumn 2009.
Not all the attention, however, was positive. There were several drunken episodes, an incident with a photographer, one involving her flashing at the Cannes Film Festival, but it’s the disparaging, outspoken remarks about other musicians that have really caught the attention of her critics.
Lily Allen channelled both the positive and negative aspects of her young career into her second album, 'It's Not Me, It's You'. Written and recorded exclusively by Allen and Greg Kurstin, the album evolved from a week the pair spent at a tiny, rented cottage in the Cotswolds in 2007. By the week's close, they had six songs and a darker, more mature sound.
In 2008 Allen had a miscarriage with her then boyfriend Ed Simons of the Chemical Brothers and she spent the following three weeks in a clinic suffering from depression. Their relationship ended shortly after.
Allen whetted the public's appetite by releasing some songs from ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’, on MySpace though the album didn’t become formally available until 9 February 2009 in the UK. When it was released it soared to the number one spot in the UK, Australian and Canadian album charts, and reached number five in America.
Allen, left MySpace in September 2009 and, for a period, social networking sites altogether. She announced plans to leave the music industry after her 2010 tour and concentrate instead on her record label and fashion shop.
Allen’s shop, ‘Lucy in Disguise’ was opened to the public in autumn 2010. It offered customers the opportunity to rent vintage designer dresses. The venture was recorded for a programme about the star's exit from music into fashion. The series, entitled 'Lily Allen: From Riches To Rags', followed the fortunes of Allen and her sister Sarah as they attempt to open ‘Lucy in Disguise’ to the public in London's Regent Street. During the filming of the programme Allen talked frankly about her private life and, after announcing that she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, spoke of the issues she encountered with morning sickness. Sadly, Allen contracted a viral infection six months into her pregnancy and her baby was stillborn.
Allen married her boyfriend, Sam Cooper, on 11 June 2011, they now have two children, Ethel Mary born in 2011 and Marnie Rose the following year.
Allen began working on new material in the summer of 2012, now on Twitter, she announced to fans that a new album was on its way. After recording a cover of Keane’s ‘Somewhere only we Know’ for a TV advert in November 2013, Allen premiered the video for her new single ‘Hard out There’ on her official website. Both singles simultaneously made it into the top ten.
In May 2014 Allen released her third Album ‘Sheezuz’, the second release from the album, ‘Air Balloon’ reached number 7 in the UK chart in January 2014.
She’s grown up in the public eye, now, a married mum of two, Lily Allen continues to go from strength to strength.